Tag Archives: Cornell

It’s Time to Step The F*ck Up for Asian American Studies | #WeNeedAAPIStudies

November 4, 2015
Students at Northwestern launch a 23-day hunger strike for creation of an Asian American Studies Program in April 12, 1995. (Photo credit: Daily Northwestern)
Students at Northwestern launch a 23-day hunger strike for creation of an Asian American Studies Program in April 12, 1995. As of 2015, Northwestern University still lacks an Asian American Studies major. (Photo credit: Daily Northwestern / Vincent LaForest)

I would not be who I am without Asian American Studies. This blog would not exist without Cornell’s Asian American Studies Program.

I can trace my genesis as an Asian American activist, writer, and intersectional feminist to one class: Introduction to Asian American History, a class I took in 2002 and which was being taught for the first time by the newly-recruited Professor Derek Chang.

By the time I enrolled for Professor Chang’s history class, I had already become politically aware as an Asian American. I was already a member of Asian Pacific Americans for Action, our school’s on-campus Asian American political student group. I was already aware of anti-Asian racism and gendered violence, and angry as heck about it.

What I lacked was a researched foundation for that anger, a considered self-awareness of our intersections, or a broader context within which I might situate my identity as a contemporary Asian American woman. These are the things that Professor Chang’s class in Asian American History (and later, Introduction to Asian American Studies) gave to me; and, these are all things that continue to inform my writing and activism today.

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Asian American Student Suicide Rate at MIT is Quadruple the National Average

May 20, 2015
Elizabeth Shin, '02, who died on April 14, 2000 in her MIT dorm room. Shin struggled with depression and had reportedly attempted suicide previously. Her death in 2000 was initially ruled a suicide, but her family later agreed that it may have been accidental as a condition of a wrongful death lawsuit settlement against the school.
Elizabeth Shin, ’02, who died on April 14, 2000 in her MIT dorm room. Shin struggled with depression and had reportedly attempted suicide previously. Her death in 2000 was initially ruled a suicide, but her family later agreed that it may have been accidental as a condition of a wrongful death lawsuit settlement against the school.

Regular readers of this blog will know that mental health, depression and suicide within the Asian American community is a topic I write frequently about. My interest in this issue originates from my activism at Cornell University, where a task force I helped urge the administration to put together ultimately found that 13 out of 21 on-campus suicides (or 61%) between 1996-2006 involved Asian American students. Consistent with trends observed in the population at-large, college-aged students are most at-risk for death by suicide within the Asian American community.

Cornell has a reputation as a school where the student suicide rate is unusually high, but it also has the reputation as a school where depression, anxiety and self-harm are a public health priority. Since the publication of that original report on Cornell’s Asian American suicide deaths, the administration put together the Asian & Asian American Center as one of several resources geared specifically to address our vulnerable community.

Sadly, at most elite universities, mental health resources languish and suicide rate is intolerably high. MIT is another school that has a reputation for a significant student suicide rate. In the 2014-2015 school year alone, six students have died by suicide, and a professor has also died from self-inflicted injuries.

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